VW chief concedes touch controls “did a lot of damage” to brand – report

Alexi Falson

Volkswagen’s chief executive officer has made some interesting comments in a recent report, conceding that the public’s reception of VW’s polarising touch-sensitive controls had a significant impact on the brand.

The comments arise from a recent interview with Autocar, with VW CEO, Thomas Schafer, who said the touch-sensitive controls “definitely did a lot of damage” to the company.

“We had frustrated customers who shouldn’t be frustrated,” he said, adding that “we’ve spent a lot of time now on what all the functions are that a customer usually touches when using a vehicle”.

Schafer said that once you have that list of physical inputs, it’s been important for Volkswagen to “bloody leave it”.

“Don’t confuse our customers every time a new model comes out and something is completely different,” he said, “optimise it, bring it into the future… but don’t change buttons from here to there.”

Just last week we reported on VW preparing the next-gen Tiguan for its 2024 launch, with the company reverting to a traditional button design in a move away from the touch-sensitive controls.

While the number of physical inputs has been slimmed-down, VW has backtracked on its previous climate control inputs and wheel-mounted haptic sensors that left many owners frustrated while making even simple inputs.

The Tiguan is one of the first to gain VW’s redesigned cabins with more physical buttons, alongside the ID 2 and next generation Passat and Golf platforms that are set to be revealed later in 2023.

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